The OHLwriters hot stove has returned. As always a question will be posed to the OHLwriters crew and they will do their best to answer.
This week’s question
With the OHL season passing its quarter pole mark last week what has been the biggest surprise of the season good or bad?
Dwayne Williams ( @notsoheavyd)
One interesting thing that has happened so far this year is that there isn't a rookie in the scoring race. Connor Brown (Erie) is leading the way with 42 points. The closest rookie sits at #46 - underager Travis Konecny of the Ottawa 67's.
The biggest surprise for me is how far and how hard the Kitchener Rangers have fallen in the standings this season. Last year they finished at the #4 spot in the Western Conference with 39 wins, 87 points and a .640 winning percentage. This season they are in the #9 spot with the same amount of points as Sarnia (but have played three fewer games than the Sting). In 17 games this season, Kitchener has 5 wins, 11 points and a winning percentage of only .324. It is also interesting that last season's #9 team (Windsor Spitfires) have played only one more game this season but have double the points (22). Kitchener's top scoring trio have 35 points combined (three players in the league have 35 points or greater). The rest of this month, the Rangers have 8 games - 2 vs. Eastern Conference teams. Twice they will host the Owen Sound Attack. They also go up against nationally ranked Greyhounds (home), Otters (away) and Storm (away).
Dominic Tiano ( @dominictiano)
The biggest surprise for me is a disappointment for me and that is attendance at the quarter mark of the OHL season. While most expected, and rightfully so, an increase in attendance last season because of the National Hockey League's lockout, the numbers border on disappointment.
During the 2011-2012 season, the season prior to the NHL lockout, OHL teams averaged 3916 fans per game. During the lockout season, those teams average 4019 fans per game, an increase of 103 fans per game. Five teams actually saw a drop in attendance while 4 more remained pretty much stagnant.
Do date this season, teams are averaging 3767 fans per game, a drop of 252 per game from last season and down 149 from the pre NHL lockout season. Those numbers are also skewed a little with the increase in attendance with the move of the Battalion from Brampton to North Bay and the increased capacity in Kitchener and of course Ottawa not playing in their regular home.
Comparing this season to date to the pre-lockout season, there is a drop of 149 fans per game, again skewed for the above mentioned reasons. Twelve teams are seeing a decrease while three more are stagnant.
While on ice performance plays a role in attendance - as teams suffer on the ice so does attendance - it must also be remembered that as one teams performance drops on the ice another improves, and rational says they should balance each other out. The game is more exciting and there are plenty of great players in the OHL this season, which is why I am surprised and disappointed with the numbers to date.
Peter Kneulman ( @peterkneulman)
For me the biggest surprise would be the Windsor Spitfires. At the beginning of the year I had them pegged at finishing 9th in the Western Conference but they have proven me wrong at that front. The front office has made some astute moves by picking up Alex Fotinos from Barrie and signing FA forward Cristiano DiGiacinto from Hamilton of the OJHL. On top of this you are seeing some of the best hockey of their OHL careers out of Nick Ebert and Brady Vail while Slater Koekkoek and Kerby Rychel are doing what you would expect. What it all adds up to is the 2nd place team in the West division and the 5th place team in the Western Conference with a +22 goal differential. While I don’t know if they will keep this up as I ultimately feel they will have a big sell off you can’t help but be impressed with what they have accomplished thus far.